Following yesterday’s vote on an amendment adding substantial sanctions against Russia to the bill, the Senate today voted to pass the bill, which was designed primarily to impose a number of new sanctions on Iran for “non-nuclear” moves that the Senate objects to. This too easily passed, with a 98-2 result.
The legislation was loudly endorsed by Israel lobbying group AIPAC, and Sen. Chuck Schumer (D – NY) also made clear the vote was all about Iran, saying it proved “bipartisan unity” in support of Israel that they were moving to punish Iran so overwhelmingly.
The lone dissenters on the bill were Sens. Rand Paul (R -KY) and Bernie Sanders (I – VT). Paul’s vote was unsurprising, as he’d also opposed yesterday’s amendment on adding Russia sanctions to the bill. Sen. Sanders insisted his concern was that the new sanctions against Iran would imperil the P5+1 nuclear deal with Iran.
That’s a realistic threat, despite confidence from Israeli lobbyists that it would not, as the bill was largely an attempt to sneak sanctions the US was obliged to lift from Iran as part of the nuclear deal back in as part of punishing Iran for “non-nuclear” actions, and those leading the charge were opponents of the P5+1 deal in the first place. Iran is likely to see this vote as tantamount to a violation, though it’s not clear what their response will be.
The White House didn’t mention the Iran sanctions part of the bill, but did appear to be down on the Russia portion, saying they believe that the existing slew of anti-Russia sanctions are already plenty. The Crapo Amendment on Russia mostly was designed to prevent the president from removing any sanctions without Congressional permission, but quickly expanded to include large new sanctions against mining and energy production within Russia.